Who are we?
The Church of England, at the best of times, can seem a difficult institution to navigate and understand! It consists of dioceses (large areas like counties) and parishes (often a town(s) or areas within a town or city). This parish is part of the Diocese of Winchester under the leadership the Bishop of Winchester who in turn has a Suffragan Bishop (a bishop responsible for the pastoral care of an area) - our Suffragan Bishop is Debbie, Bishop of Southampton. You can find out more about the Diocese of Winchester via the website: winchester.anglican.org.
Following the retirement of Bishop Tim (the Bishop of Winchester) in February 2022 we await the arrival of Bishop Philip in January 2024 where he joins us from Truro having been Bishop there and in between we say 'farewell' to Bishop Debbie as she moves to take up her new role as Bishop of Peterborough.
The Church of England churches locally are part of the Deanery of Bournemouth - a smaller area where the clergy (vicars) are able to work together and offer support to each other. Michael, our vicar, is Area Dean and has the responsibility locally for the care of vicars of the deanery and other legal and administrative responsibilities.
As a parish, we are supporters and affirm the ordained ministry of all - women and men. We are also proud of our history of inclusion and support of the LGBTQ+ community. We know that we often don't quite get it right and are always looking for ways to improve.
As a parish, we reflect on how we can serve the community better. We have a Vision document - One Parish: One Vision (available by clicking HERE) which in summary is as follows:
The Parish Vision:
To be a thriving, sustainable, multi-generational and radically inclusive parish, embedded in the local community.
With the goals:
One Parish, One Vision
Ministering across the generations
A sustainable community, using our resources effectively
Maximising our outreach within the community
Pursuing local justice
Radically and openly inclusive
As a newly merged parish, we will be reviewing our Vision in the next 12 months once we have settled into our newly merged status.
Our core values are Sanctuary,
We provide and believe in providing sanctuary for one another, whether times are rough or going well. More than this though, we believe in providing refuge for those who live at the edges of our society, those who are lonely, depressed, seeking asylum, or sleeping rough.
We place the practice of Jesus of Nazareth at the root of our faith. His teaching and way of life point us to following a path of radical love, forgiveness and service. The church has often been guilty of over-complicating the good news of Christ. We believe that God is love and that we experience and reflect this love through following 'The Way' that Jesus Christ taught and lived.
Committed to care for creation and the pursuit of justice. We take seriously our work on environmental issues and have made one of our churchyards into a wildlife conservation area. We are a Fairtrade parish, and support the work of the Foodbank, Traidcraft and Christian Aid, alongside a number of local charities, such as Faithworks, Michael House, the Women's Refuge, Hope For Food and Hope in the Community, which helps those who are vulnerable.
We are proud members of Inclusive Church
We are proud members of Inclusive Church and their statement of belief:
"We believe in inclusive Church - church which does not discriminate, on any level, on grounds of economic power, gender, mental health, physical ability, race or sexuality. We believe in Church which welcomes and serves all people in the name of Jesus Christ; which is scripturally faithful; which seeks to proclaim the Gospel afresh for each generation; and which, in the power of the Holy Spirit, allows all people to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Jesus Christ.".
To find out more about Inclusive Church go to www.inclusive-church.org.
We’re not perfect but we try very hard to welcome absolutely everyone.
Parish Vision, Values and Inclusivity
We want to be honest and open about our inclusivity, vision and values
As a parish, we join a growing band of churches rethinking inclusion. We want to be clear here about what inclusion means in this parish. Unfortunately, in our experience, there are lots of churches out there who are not clear in their position.
Firstly, we very much affirm the ordained ministry across the genders; that women and men can be priests, bishops and archbishops. We support and encourage vocations from women and men. We believe that more should be done to encourage women in church leadership. We support the work of WATCH (Women and the Church). Our Vicar, Michael was a Trustee of WATCH until stepping down in 2022.
We want to take this opportunity to be completely clear about what inclusion looks like here in the Parish of Winton, Moordown and Charminster by answering a few simple questions:
Will the Parish of Four Saints hire LGBTQ+ people for any ministry role? Yes
Will the Parish of Four Saints clergy officiate a wedding for LGBTQ+ people? No – we are currently prevented from doing so by the Church or England and national legislation, but we do want to find ways to celebrate people's relationships with them and when it is legal to publicly offer services of blessing and marraige
Will the Parish of Four Saints recommend and encourage LGBTQ+ people for ordination? Yes
Are there any LGBTQ+ people on the Parish of Four Saints leadership team? Not at present
Can women preach and preside in the primary church service? Yes
Can women be ordained and encouraged in their vocations (or recommended for ordination)? Yes
Can women serve on all governing bodies? Yes
Can women serve as senior minister/incumbent/Rector in this parish? Yes
Do women and/or non-binary folks make up 50% or more of the Parish of Four Saints’s leadership team? Not at present
We would like to see the ability across the Church of England for marriages of same sex couples to take place in churches as well as publicly blessed. We support the campaign for equal marriage (https://cofe-equal-marriage.org.uk/). We are very pleased to support Student Christian Movement and their HonestChurch campaign. Read more about it HERE.
We are working to try to ensure that our buildings are accessible as possible. St Francis, St Alban's and St Luke's both have step free access into the church and hall buildings with accessible toilets on the same level as the hall and church. Unfortunately, the toilets at St John's are not accessible for those in a wheelchair or with accessibility needs.
We are not perfect and we would like to encourage everyone to participate in the life of the parish. We are working as hard as we can to ensure we are fully inclusive.